This week’s reviews include releases from Cold Fell, Gorephilia, Holocausto, John 5, Junius, Pyogenesis, Rozamov, Sanctuary, She Must Burn and Wolfheart.
The ratings are on a 5 star scale.
Cold Fell – Irwell (Argento)
When a band titles the first song on their first album “Skull Crushed Against Salford Cobblestones,” the initial anticipation is something violent and sloppy ahead. While Cold Fell’s Irwell has the violence down in the form of boiling tempos, there’s nothing messy about their focused compositions.
The album is bookended by two high-quality, eight-plus minute songs, where the group break from typical black metal rage into an eerie, solemn, and empty vibe. The rest of the songs sandwiched between them keep up an ardent pace, hardly settling down to make for a satisfying mauling of the senses.
Gorephilia – Severed Monolith (Dark Descent)
Dark Descent Records has really been upping its game of late. Last year saw Spectral Voice and, especially, Blood Incantation leap to the front of the line of up and coming death metal bands to watch. You can add the Finnish band Gorephilia to the list.
Gorephilia release their second, album, Severed Monolith, at just the right moment. This is semi-technical, abrasive death metal played the way it should be. Falling somewhere in between Incantation and, say, bands such as Funebrarum, Gorephilia pile on the riffs, tempo changes, and all of the density and heaviness that the genre calls for. Awesome stuff, if not exactly groundbreaking, but, every now and then, you just want a quality, no frills death metal record that’s going to knock your head back. Severed Monolith does just that in spades.
Holocausto – War Metal Massacre (Nuclear War Now!)
The Brazilian band Holocausto emerged in the mid-’80s, released a few albums, then split for a decade or so. The EP War Metal Massacre is their first release in more than 10 years, and first to feature the entire original lineup since the 1986 Warfare Noise compilation. They re-record their two songs from that album on the new EP.
In addition to having their classic lineup, the EP also returns to their classic sound. It’s a chaotic brand of black metal with thrash and death influences. There’s brutality and extremity aplenty, but also some catchy grooves. The six songs (along with two brief intros) fly by in just over 23 minutes, leaving devastation and destruction in its wake, along with anticipation for a new full-length revisiting this musical path.
John 5 and The Creatures – Season Of The Witch (60 Cycle Hum)
For almost a year now John 5 has been releasing videos for songs on Season Of The Witch, and now the entire album is available. It’s the guitar wizard’s seventh solo record, with the lineup for the all instrumental venture also including bassist Ian Ross and drummer Rodger Carter.
It’s an eclectic album with John 5’s virtuoso skills on full display. From the twangy “Black Grass Plague” to the shredtastic “Guitars, Tits and Monsters” to the downtuned “Making Monsters” to the mellow “Ode To Jasper,” there’s a plethora of styles and genres represented. Instrumental albums usually have a narrow niche, but with the profile and skills of John 5, it should get wider exposure than the typical guitar-driven instrumental disc.
Junius – Eternal Rituals For The Accretion Of Light (Prosthetic)
After releasing an EP in 2014, Junius‘ latest full-length Eternal Rituals Of The Accretion Of Light is the conclusion to the trilogy of albums that also includes 2009’s The Martyrdom Of A Catastrophist and 2011’s Reports From Threshold Of Death.
Vocalist Joseph E. Martinez has a dramatic delivery that utilizes a somber baritone and a more energetic tenor. The post metal arrangements are cinematic and atmospheric. Things like harsh vocals on “Clean The Beast” and the sparse acoustic arrangement of “Masquerade In Veils” add even more variety. There are plenty of metal moments on the album mixed with ambient and even gothic sections.
Pyogenesis – A Kingdom To Disappear (AFM)
In the early ’90s Pyogenesis were pioneers in the death/doom genre. Slowly morphing alternative influences into their sound, they were a completely different band by the end of the century. After a long layoff they successfully reemerged two years ago and are now back with their seventh full length, A Kingdom To Disappear.
Retaining a lot of their metal influences, Pyogenesis are blending all of the elements throughout their career that have defined them. Guttural vocals make a few appearances along with blastbeats, but their strength lies in the ability to expand on their melancholic melodies. Like most complex releases, the album grows greatly the more you absorb it.
Rozamov – This Mortal Road (Battleground)
The one-word description for Rozamov’s debut album is this: Heavy. The capitalization of that word is on purpose, a necessary emphasis on just how crushing This Mortal Road is. Dense riffs move at labored speeds, in no rush to reach their destination.
Extended periods go by without vocals, the trio carefully heightening the tension until they can’t build it up any longer. At spots, they spend a tad too long in this mode, letting the wait become too arduous to hold on to. It never becomes unbearable though, as eventually the group hones in on a destructive mode to exuberant effect.
Sanctuary – Inception (Century Media)
Sanctuary reformed a few years ago following the demise of Nevermore and released their first new album in nearly a quarter century. Their latest release goes back to their earliest days. Inception includes songs recorded back in 1986.
A couple of the tracks are previously unreleased, with six of the nine songs also later appearing on their 1988 debut album Refuge Denied. They don’t sound as raw as you might expect from recordings like this, thanks to having been restored, remixed and remastered by Zeuss. Warrel Dane sounds great, with a huge range and some potent falsetto. It’s an interesting to hear the previously unreleased songs, and hear the early versions of most of the songs on their debut.
She Must Burn – Grimoire (Artery)
Grimoire is the full-length debut from the British band She Must Burn. They blend symphonic black metal with ‘core elements that has influences of bands like Cradle Of Filth along with modern deathcore outfits.
Those ‘core influences are spotlighted by guest appearances from Carnifex’s Scott Lewis and Make Them Suffer’s Sean Harmanis. In addition to black metal rasps and ‘core style screaming from Joseph Sinclair, periodic melodic singing from keyboardist Amy Miller add a whole different approach. Songs that utilize both of them like “From The Grave” and closer “After Death” are the album’s best.
Wolfheart – Tyhjyys (Spinefarm)
With the dissolution of the respected Before The Dawn and Black Sun Aeon, Tuomas Saukkonen decided to focus all of his energy on Wolfheart in 2013. Tyhjyys is their third full length release and the style is rooted in the melodic death metal world. Wolfheart expertly blend melodic riffing, blast beats and guttural vocals seamlessly.
One of the greatest strengths is the album only being eight tracks and is easily digestible. The orchestration and symphonic elements bring an added cinematic feel to the music. The diversity is felt with the music ranging from cold black metal, brutal death metal blastbeats and melodic passages that paint a landscape. Saukkonen’s vocals are brutal and guttural but still retaining a melodic element.